Jul 17 2008

Senator Shelby Announces Agriculture Funding for Alabama

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced funding for projects in Alabama included in the fiscal year 2009 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  Following today’s action by the committee, the legislation will now go to the Senate floor for consideration.

“I believe the Agriculture Appropriations bill goes a long way toward helping farmers and rural communities in Alabama and across the country by funding advanced research methods with the ultimate goal of eliminating devastating diseases and increasing agricultural productivity levels,” said Shelby.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - $1.12 Billion

The Agricultural Research Service is responsible for conducting research within many areas of agriculture.  Within this program the following projects at Auburn University will continued to be funded:

Improved Crop Production Practices
National Soil Dynamics Lab
Catfish Genome
Vaccine and Microbe Research for Fish Health
“Auburn University continues to be on the forefront of groundbreaking agriculture research,” said Shelby.  “Auburn will use this funding to research, develop and promote farming practices that span from crop production to our fishing industry.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Foods Program - $660.534 Million

The Food and Drug Administration Foods Program has the primary responsibility for assuring that the food supply is safe.  This program plays a major role in keeping the U.S. food supply among the safest in the world.  As part of this program, the Senate Appropriations Committee specifically cited the need for the FDA to focus on the economic integrity of seafood with respect to the labeling of species, weights, country of origin and treatment.

“Food safety is a national priority that affects every man, woman and child and we must ensure the security of the food supply from all forms of contamination,” said Shelby. “The recent contamination of tomatoes reinforces the necessity of food inspections.  Enhancing our detection capabilities will discover pathogens before they enter our food supply and help alleviate widespread outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.”

Auburn Research Center on Detection and Food Safety - $1.862 Million

This program will educate a new generation of engineers and scientists to continue Auburn University’s cutting-edge research to improve food safety.  Ultimately, discoveries made at Auburn could lead to a system that monitors food products from production to consumption, thereby eliminating or reducing significantly the threat of food-borne illnesses.

“As we have seen in recent weeks with tomatoes and other produce, food safety must be a national priority,” said Shelby. “This funding will enable Auburn University to continue to develop the science, technology and engineering required to rapidly detect pathogens and toxins that may arise in the food chain and quickly resolve the problems before they enter consumer market place.  This important issue affects not only consumers, but also the millions of workers in the food industry.”

Tri- State Peanut Research - $440,000

Intensive tillage of today’s farming methods has left the soils of the lower coastal plains severely low in organic matter and water holding capacity, resulting in low crop yields and forcing many farmers to leave the farming business.  This project will increase the amount of organic material and carbon storage in the soil, restoring productivity to vast peanut-growing regions of Southeast Alabama. 

“This critical funding will facilitate continued research into several factors affecting the peanut industry,” said Shelby.  “The goal is to develop a sustainable, sod-based crop production system that is customized to the southeastern United States.”

Precision Agriculture and Forestry, Tennessee Valley Research Center - $446,000

Increasingly, farmers are relying on crop yield maps to make decisions on next year’s fertilizer application or crop planting rates. This program will develop and implement techniques to use images taken from satellites, aircraft or ground-based systems to map competing vegetation and then to plan precision herbicide spraying operations that use less chemicals and improve wildlife habitat.  

“Recent technological advancements have become important tools for many of Alabama’s farmers,” said Shelby. “This funding will be used to develop technology that will help farmers and ranchers evaluate their crops and increase their yields using GPS and other information systems.”

City of Foley Comprehensive Conservation Outreach, Education, and Action Program - $215,000

This project aims to increase awareness of conservation and to educate individuals, particularly young people, how to do their part to conserve and protect our resources.  This funding will be used to develop an educational conservation program and to develop a conservation park with outdoor classrooms and walking trails.

“We must educate young people now about the importance of conservation for the future,” said Shelby. “This program will teach Alabamians how to practice conservation efforts so that we can ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.”

The following nationwide programs will also be funded through the fiscal year 2009 Agriculture Appropriations bill:

Rural Water and Waste Disposal - $558.628 Million

The bill includes funding for a competitive grant and loan program for communities in Alabama and across the country.

“Rural communities across Alabama are in need of financial assistance for the development of water and waste disposal systems,” Shelby said.  “This program will provide the resources necessary to ensure our communities have a clean and safe water supply.”

Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC), Vibrio Vulnificus Education - $185,000

Emphasis on this money will be directed to Vibrio Programs.  The ISSC has utilized this level of funding to pursue needed programs to address illnesses and deaths associated with Vibrios in shellfish. 

“The shellfish industry is integral to Alabama’s economy,” said Shelby.  “Unfortunately, it has been found that the deadly bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus can be found in oysters and shellfish warm coastal waters during the summer months.  Because this bacteria can cause a life-threatening illness in humans, it is critical that we do all we can to learn more about treating those that come in contact with contaminated shellfish.”

Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) - $148,000

The ISSC is made up of members from the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, State Shellfish Control Agencies, including state health and resource regulators and the shellfish industry. 

“Shellfish are an important component to Alabama’s fishery industry,” said Shelby.  “As such, we must continue to ensure that Alabama’s shellfish remain safe for visitors and residents of our state to enjoy.  This funding will assist states in complying with National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) Guidelines.”